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Difficult Questions #CyprusTalks

Difficult Questions <a class="hashtagger" href="">#CyprusTalks</a>

Who would’ve thought a young Turkish Cypriot man, accompanied by a cameraman, would cross the Cyprus buffer zone and ask Greek Cypriots the very simple, yet difficult to answer, question: “Would you want your son or daughter to marry a Turkish Cypriot?”

Batu Özuslu first made headlines in the magazine sections of Turkish newspapers when he proposed to his beloved girlfriend, Burçin Emingil, while competing in a quiz program on a mainstream Turkish private TV channel. Crossing the Cyprus divide was of course braver than proposing live on TV. But he deserved a round of applause for exposing the “rejectionist” face of the Greek Cypriots even on the subject of love. Was Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, not born from the foams off Paphos?

After Özuslu’s question, Greek Cypriots, on a social media platform, were mostly talking about the impossibility of Greek Orthodox boys and girls building a life with Muslim Turkish Cypriot boys and girls. Some, of course, were more rational, and agreed that love transcends borders and defies all barriers. But even those people, unfortunately, at one point “agreed” on the impossibility of defying the cultural, ethnic and religious divide.

But a while ago, Özuslu asked the same question to Turkish Cypriots. Most replies surrendered to the issue of the difficulty of overcoming the barriers of prejudices, but almost all participants at the same time stressed that love was beyond everything and that all difficulties could be solved with a compromise.

Compromise is a very beautiful word, but achieving it is not that easy. If that was the case, then perhaps the Cyprus problem would not have continued for the past half a century. Particularly, if there was a 1960 framework the two sides agreed on, how could it be possible to avoid a resolution for the past so many decades? Was the 1960 system not a de facto federation, even though the state was called a unitary republic? With legislative and executive veto powers given to the Turkish Cypriot community and judicial arrangements reflecting the bi-communality of the state, the Cyprus Republic was an effective federation. The effective federation, however, was insufficient in protecting the Turkish Cypriot people from the “Cyprus is Greek” obsession. Since 1977, there was hope that instead of an effective federation perhaps an EU member-state with a full-fledged federal setup would help give the island peace and tranquility.

Also read:  Cyprus Anxiety Over ‘Fresh Ideas #CyprusTalks

Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay was interviewed by the Greek Cypriot Politis newspaper on why a federation was not possible.

“Was the Turkish Cypriot side ready to resume talks from where they collapsed in Crans Montana on July 6, 2017?”

he was asked.

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About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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